THE Eastern Province surfing team are geared up to defend their title when the Hurley SA Junior Championships take place in Jeffreys Bay next week.
The prestigious event, one of the most important on the junior calendar, will take place at Lower Point, Jeffreys Bay from September 25-29.
EP claimed the title last year in home surf at Jeffreys Bay for the first time in the 16-year history of the event. J-Bay surfers also won three of six SA individual titles and three of five special awards on offer, including the coveted Freedom Cup team trophy.
The three EP winners were Matt McGillivray (J-Bay), Gina Smith (J-Bay) and Crystal Hulett (St Francis Bay).
This year, all eyes will be on top performers McGillivray, Hulett and Kai Woolf to keep the EP flag flying. The diminutive Woolf was second in the under-13 girls' division last year.
The team, though, will be up against stiff competition because the event features the best 17-and-under surfers in South Africa.
This year, teams from KwaZulu-Natal (last year's runners-up), Central, Western Province (2011 champions), Southern KZN, Border, Boland, Zululand, Southern Cape and the SA Development Academy will be going all out in their quest to secure the Freedom Cup and individual national titles.
"The Hurley SA junior championships is the most important junior tournament on the South African calendar and Hurley's support has turned it into a five-star event," Surfing SA general manager Robin de Kock said.
"This is where our next generation of surfing stars get to strut their stuff and the fact that it will take place in Jeffreys Bay again this year adds to the stature and excitement of this special event."